A Conversation with Figurative Artist Michelle Dunaway
When was the last time you really took a moment to slow down and notice your surroundings? Do you find that you are easily distracted by your cell phone notifications or the million other things demanding your attention? You aren’t alone! I’ve struggled with managing my distractions for years, so I was thrilled to hear my guest, Michelle Dunaway address this critical topic. In our conversation, we also discuss Michelle’s oil painting, her recent arm injury, how to be honest with yourself, and much more. I know that artists like you will get a ton of value from Michelle’s thoughtful perspective, enjoy!
Space to daydream and wonder
What was your childhood like? Did you have a ton of expectations placed on you from an early age or were you free to find your own path? While many parents have nothing but the best of intentions – the truth is – a carefree childhood can quickly get pushed to the wayside. Thankfully, Michelle was given permission and encouragement to explore her creativity. Looking back, she is especially fond of the moments where she would get lost in a daydream or playing in a field. Michelle also points to a critical influence in her life, Richard Schmidt – he also took time to invest in Michelle and encourage her abilities both professionally and as a peer.
An unexpected injury
Don’t you hate it when life throws you a huge curveball that you never saw coming? Maybe for you, it was an unexpected expense like a car repair or the illness of a loved one, or maybe your story is a lot like Michelle’s and you’ve experienced a personal injury that you have to overcome. After recovering from a misstep that caused an injury to her arm, Michelle started to get back into the swing of things. Before long, she realized that she wasn’t able to put in the hours painting as she had before the accident. It turns out that Michelle had re-injured her arm and now has to undergo surgery and an extensive recovery process.
The experience with her arm injury highlighted an important aspect that Michelle had been working to focus on for years – managing distractions. From her cellphone to the news and everything in between – Michelle’s life felt like it was full of distractions. As a spiritual person, Michelle looks to prayer and meditation to help her find her center. Cutting through all the noise of daily life is no easy task! The injury to her arm has forced Michelle to become more aware and present – she still struggles with the distraction of her cell phone, but she’s making progress. What can you take away from Michelle’s story?
The moments that make you smile
Have you had a moment in your art career that made you pause in gratitude? Let’s face it; gratitude is not an easy attitude to cultivate. We can get so focused and caught up in what we don’t have or what isn’t going right that we fail to reflect on the good things in life. Michelle will be the first person to tell you that her life is filled with things to be grateful for. Looking back on her career – Michelle points out one person’s reaction to her oil painting of Richard Schmid as a particularly remarkable experience. The man that was viewing her painting was moved to tears and explained that Michelle’s painting made him feel like he had met Richard Schmid. What a compliment!
Outline of This Episode
- [1:00] I introduce my guest, Michelle Dunaway.
- [2:30] Michelle talks about her influences and why she started a career in art.
- [5:30] How has Michelle’s arm injury impacted her journey?
- [19:20] Michelle and I discuss the “Artist’s eye.”
- [21:00] Learning to be honest with yourself.
- [29:30] What does Michelle look for in a subject?
- [39:00] Michelle talks about her experience working with Faso.
- [42:00] A typical day in Michelle’s studio.
- [50:00] Removing distractions.
- [54:40] Proud moments from Michelle’s career.
- [1:04:00] Michelle shares a story about a painting that moved her.
- [1:13:30] What is Michelle’s dream project?
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Other artists mentioned on this episode
- Richard Schmid
- John Singer Sargent
- Cecilia Beaux
- Jeremy Lipking
- Mary Oliver
- Stephanie Paige Thomson
Resources Mentioned on this episode
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